Why I Love Beach Weddings in Cancun

I’ve been living in Cancun since I was 19, but had never attended a local wedding until last year. Now that I’m well into my 20s, many of my friends are starting to get engaged and get married (including myself… heh).

My best friends got married on the beach in Puerto Juarez, Cancun

I’d never before realized just how amazing Cancun is for a wedding, but in the past year I’ve had the chance to see several stunning beach weddings right on the Caribbean.

With unique chapels set under a palapa-roof, intense turquoise waters and bright white sand beaches, brides and grooms in Cancun don’t even need to buy large flower arrangements or expensive decorations to set the mood for a romantic beach wedding.

Couples getting married in Cancun can experience an elegant ceremony at one of this destination’s incredible resorts, or choose a more secluded oceanside event venue in areas like Puerto Morelos and Puerto Juarez, both located within 20 minutes of the Hotel Zone.

When it comes to beach weddings, I’m great at salsa dancing in the sand and hounding the dessert table… but when it comes to planning, my organizational skills fail me. So, I decided to ask my friend Ilse, the owner of Diamant Events and a beautiful beachside venue in Puerto Morelos, a little about what it’s like to plan a destination wedding in Cancun.

The gorgeous Ilse of Diamant Events

Why do so many people choose Cancun for their destination wedding?

Because people get more for their money in every way. Cancun offers amazing background colors for your beautiful wedding photos. We also have very good weather almost every time of the year.

Nighttime beach wedding by Ilse of Diamant Events

What inspired you to choose Cancun for organizing destination weddings?

I know Cancun is still a young city and the wedding industry is growing fast around the world, and Cancun is the perfect place to do things the right way. If we all have good and certified wedding planners, we can raise the bar for quality weddings and become the world’s top wedding destination, not just the Top 10.

A daytime beach wedding by Ilse at Diamant Events

What are some fun traditions you’ve seen being used here?

I’ve seen the Chinese tea tradition, one tradition from a Nordic town where bride and groom cut together a piece of wood symbolizing they are now working together as a team, I’ve seen tossing the bouquet to see who is the next one in line to get married, and the Jordanian Candle Dance where all the ladies from the bridal party (including bride) entering the wedding salon with the lights dimmed and all of them dancing; then they get to the groom they carry them and every one dances in circles around them.
How hard is it for a foreigner to get married in Mexico from a legal standpoint?
They can do the legal ceremony here too. Most people don’t want to do the paper work because they don’t realize that any certified wedding planner in Cancun can do that for them, including sending the papers back home and making them legal in their foreign country.
What’s the best time of day for a beach wedding?
My favorite time is just before sunset. The natural lighting, the breeze and the serenity of the ocean at that time is just amazing!

An evening beach wedding by Isle at Diamant Events

Ilse was nice enough to invite me along to a wedding this weekend! She was at a workshop hosted by New York wedding coordinator Candy Cain, where she and other coordinators got their Wedding Specialist Certification. Saturday afternoon, I met up with Ilse at the Gran Caribe Real in Cancun’s Hotel Zone to see a beautiful wedding right on the beach, organized by Candy. It was INCREDIBLE. So small and simple, yet breathtaking. I’ll leave you with a few pictures…

Any wedding with a parasailer in the background is all right with me.

What’s your dream wedding location?

Disclosure:  I am being compensated for my work in creating and managing content as a Community Manager for the Mexico Today Program.  All stories, opinions and passion for all things Mexico shared here are completely my own.

Juan and Viri’s Beach Wedding

My frequent readers will know that Jorge and my best friends are Juan and Viri. They already had their civil ceremony back in December, but this past weekend was their big Catholic wedding. It was SO MUCH FUN!

The wedding was held at Ocean Events, a beautiful outdoor venue set on the beach near Puerto Juarez, right in front of El Meco ruins. (Jorge and I almost chose this venue for our wedding last year, before deciding to get married in Merida.)

I got to be a bridesmaid (there were TWELVE of us!), and of course I took pictures… you know me.

The ceremony venue

Jorge and me (a vision in purple, if I do say so myself)

I told you there were 12 of us

It's a Mexican tradition for family and close friends to pay for certain parts of the wedding. Juan and Viri sponsored our wedding cake, so we sponsored their dessert table... money well spent.

Here's a Mexican wedding tradition for ya... the men carry the groom off to the restroom. They undress him (completely), and bring his clothes back to the bride, who then has to go to the restroom to dress him again.

Here they are bringing the clothes back.

The wedding was filled with great food (especially the cupcakes… ooooh, the cupcakes…), tons of dancing (the dance floor was NEVER empty, and the salsa music was the most popular), and tons of friends. We ended the night around 2 am.

Congratulations, Juan and Viri!

Monte Alban Ruins in Oaxaca, Mexico

I’ve seen several ancient ruins during my years living in Mexico: Chichen Itza, Tulum, Yobain, Ek Balam, Palenque and Lamanai (ok, that last one is in Belize). When people ask me which one was my favorite, I always think hard about it and come up with the same answer: “They’re all so beautiful in their own way!”

Chichen Itza is amazing in its importance and scientific details. Tulum has the best location on a cliff overlooking the Caribbean. Yobain is so tiny and unknown that it feels as if it belongs to a select few of us. Ek Balam is secluded and has the best buildings to climb. Palenque has a striking contrast of dark gray stone and lush green, and you can explore inside the temples. Lamanai has incredible views and is fun to get to.

During my recent trip to Oaxaca with Mexico Today, I jumped at the chance to see the Zapotec ruins of Monte Alban. I’d heard of it before and seen a few pictures, but nothing could have prepared me for how beautiful it really was. Set atop a carved-out mountain, the site stunned me with its… immenseness. I’m not sure if it’s bigger than Chichen Itza or Palenque, but it sure LOOKS bigger. From several vantage points you can see the entire site, with towering mountains in the background. Definitely one of the most surreal and awe-inspiring things I’ve seen.

Our guides throughout the trip were from El Convento Tours. I highly recommend them if you’re ever in Oaxaca! The company belongs to the Martinez family… who will forever live on in my heart as some of the best storytellers I’ve ever met. (If you get the chance to meet them, ask to hear about the “rebozo”. Trust me.)

We took a van up into the mountains, less than half an hour from our hotel. Once there, it was a steep but surprisingly easy walk up to the museum, where our guide Ulises gave us a fascinating tour, talking about Zapotec customs (sacrifices, pottery, writing and friezes) and beauty secrets (flat foreheads, crossed eyes and pointy teeth embedded with jewels, sexy!).

Then we made our way up to the ruins. Filled with temples, stairs, plazas, a ball court, an area for human sacrifice and breathaking views, Monte Alban is truly an unforgettable site.

[slideshow]

So where does Monte Alban stand on my list of favorite ruins? I’d say it’s tied for first with all the rest.

Disclosure:  I am being compensated for my work in creating and managing content as a Community Manager for the Mexico Today Program.  I was also invited on an all-expenses paid trip to Oaxaca as part of my role.  All stories, opinions and passion for all things Mexico shared here are completely my own.

Pinches Chaquistes

Having tons of bugbites on your feet when you’re too ticklish to properly scratch them is the worst feeling in the world.

Didn’t get much sleep last night.

(Life is sooooo haaaaaard!)

Luckily I brought Vitacilina with me to work today, which has been a lifesaver. If you don’t know what Vitacilina is… you have never watched a Mexican morning show.

 

**Positive note: Itchy-scratchiness is from pesky chaquiste bites while enjoying my best friend’s awesome beach wedding… so maybe I’m whining too much. Will hopefully post photos later this week. 🙂

Our One Year Anniversary

Today is our one year wedding anniversary. We’ll be celebrating with a romantic dinner tonight! (I have no idea where, as it’s a surprise)

I’ve finally decided to catch up to technology and insert a slide show of our wedding day. Love you, Jorge!

[slideshow]

Casitas Restaurant at the Ritz Carlton Cancun

Last night I had an amazing opportunity to go to the Ritz Carlton Cancun to see their first baby turtle release of the year. Within the next few weeks you’ll see more about their turtle program, but for now I wanted to share other parts of my visit.

When I walked into the lobby, I was excited to see an old buddy from college at the reception desk! (Cancun is a very small city.) So while I waited for my hostess, Eduardo (“Lalo”) and I got to catch up on old times. Paulina Feltrin, the hotel’s PR Director, came to greet me and gave me a tour of this immense hotel. It was amazing! Luxury restaurants, beautiful artwork, gorgeous facilities… *sigh* Everywhere we went, we were welcomed by smiling and attentive staff.

What really caught my eye was their culinary center. They offer cooking classes with Chef Rory Dunaway in this amazing kitchen:

I know, right?

As of now my cooking skills are limited to sandwiches,  spaghetti and some pretty great guacamole, but if my kitchen looked a bit more like this… I’d make cooking a priority! (Then I’d invite all of you guys over for fabulous brunches.)

After the turtle release (more on that later, I promise!), Paulina and I had an incredible dinner at their beach restaurant, Casitas. It was a truly beautiful setting in a private cabana overlooking the Caribbean. I got to practice my nighttime photography, which you guys know I’m still trying to master… so you know, apologies in advance for all blurriness.

Casitas Restaurant

Our private cabana

We started the meal with their seafood platter: shrimp, Alaskan king crab (my new favorite), lobster, oysters, tuna tartar and a variety of amazing dips.

**Word to the wise: You’re supposed to swallow oysters whole, not chew them. Learned this the hard way.

For the main course, I ordered the Petit Filet Mignon, which came with a selection of salts as well as chimichurri and bearnais sauce. Anyone who has had a meal with me knows that I tried them all! I also asked for a side of mashed potatoes with grated cheddar, which reminded me of my mom’s Twice Baked Potatoes. The entire main course was to die for, but unfortunately I was too busy enjoying it to take pictures. (shameful behavior for a blogger)

I did make up for it by taking pictures of dessert: a sampler of all their dessert options!

From left to right: chocolate with brownie, Key Lime Pie (best I've ever had!), orange and mandarin pannacotta, tiramisu, upside down pineapple cake, and cheesecake with raspberry cream

Paulina and I talked in Spanglish about culture, family, tourism and food throughout dinner, and completely lost track of time! It was 10:30 before I left to go home. By the time I walked out the door, I had fallen in love with their beach, the hotel, their community programs and Casitas restaurant.

Thanks so much to Paulina Feltrin and the Ritz Carlton Cancun for their incredible hospitality.

Sunday in Playa del Carmen

This Friday, Jorge and I will have our 1-year wedding anniversary… I know, time flies, right? Since we’re booked up with plans for our friends’ wedding next weekend, we decided to celebrate yesterday by heading down to Playa del Carmen for the day.

We had a late night Saturday (bachelor and bachelorette parties) and didn’t wake up until 12:30 pm! We didn’t arrive in Playa until about 4 in the afternoon… which actually worked out great because we avoided the heat!

After a quick late lunch at Subway, we walked down to the beach. Jorge and I aren’t huge fans of the water in Playa del Carmen (we’re too spoiled from all or trips to Isla Mujeres), but you can’t beat the vibe of Playa! There were acoustic artists and bands playing at the nearby beach clubs, providing us with a great soundtrack to our afternoon.

Once the sun started to go down, we walked up and down Playa’s 5th Avenue (great for people watching!), then decided to try Wicky’s Beach Club for dinner since so many people have recommended it. It had very cool modern design, and a great location set right on the beach. When we sat down and looked at the menu, however, we realized it was a bit out of our price range for the day (embarrassing! although I suspect it’s more affordable at lunchtime), so we just ordered some smoothies. I highly recommend the blackberry smoothie. It blew me away!

Shamed by our lack of cash, Jorge and I decided to go to an old favorite… 100% Natural. This beautiful outdoor restaurant is filled with towering trees and vines, giving it a jungle-like atmosphere. As always, I had to test out my nighttime photography skills. Definitely improving! (sort of)

I had garlic shrimp with veggies (I have never had such fresh, delicious veggies in all my time in Mexico! I’ve never been so happy to see a green bean) with agua de jamaica, while Jorge got some kind of immense and amazing chicken sandwich.

By then it was pretty late, so we walked back to the bus station and made our way back to Cancun. I think I’m the only person in history who has ever been SAD to return to Cancun… what can I say, I love Playa del Carmen!

Mexico's Aguas Frescas

I remember my first taste of agua de horchata. I was living in Acapulco and I stopped by a little neighborhood cafe with a girlfriend. She told me it was a refreshing drink made with rice, vanilla, cinnamon and sugar. This piqued my curiosity because I had a hard time understanding how rice could be refreshing. The waitress set a glass down in front of me filled with what looked like milk with a slight beige tint. I took a sip, and my love affair with aguas frescas was born.

Aguas frescas roughly translates to “refreshing waters” in Spanish. They’re delicious drinks with a water and sugar base, infused with fruits, cereals (like rice or wheat), or even flowers. You can find them at any food establishment throughout Mexico, whether it’s a taco stand or a five-star restaurant, and they provide an incredible alternative to water or soda.

My friend Leslie Limon is also a huge fan of aguas frescas. She’s a beautiful American woman raising a family in the state of Jalisco, Mexico. (Oh, who am I kidding? She’s practically Mexican!) On her blog, La Cocina de Leslie, she posts mouthwatering Mexican recipes, including aguas frescas.

Since she is so much more talented than I am in the kitchen (ahem), I’ll share some of my favorite recipes from her blog…

Agua de Jamaica (Hibiscus Water) Leslie refers to this drink as part of the “aguas frescas trinity” (Jamaica, Horchata and Tamarindo, the three flavors you’re sure to find everywhere in Mexico). It’s a personal favorite… very refreshing and made from dried hibiscus flowers. Talk about exotic!

Agua de Pepino (Cucumber Limeade) I tried this for the first time at the Mexico Today Kick-Off Event in Oaxaca. I just wish I’d discovered it sooner! I prefer mine with extra lime.

Agua de Sandia (Watermelon Water) No explanation needed for this one! Just as refreshing as it sounds.

(Leslie, you’re missing my favorite! I’d love to see your recipe for agua de melon.)

During my trip to Oaxaca, a few of us also got to experience an aguas frescas tasting with the city’s famous Aguas Casilda. They set up a table offering clay pots of refreshing drinks, then combined them to make unique flavors.

Berta Cruz from Aguas Casilda pouring some lovely "agua de horchata"

"Agua de horchata" mixed with "agua de tuna" (the fruit, not the fish!) (although here in the Yucatan, we'd call it "agua de pitaya")

They offered us different combinations of tuna (aka pitaya), horchata, lime, and even pumpkin. The pumkin water didn’t look too appetizing, but trust me, it was delicious!

A makeshift Mexican flag made with "limon", "horchata" and "tuna"

It was an incredible experience to taste these incredibly fresh aguas frescas. If you want to learn more about different flavors, you can check out Aguas Casilda’s website by clicking on the button (Make sure to click on the “Sabores” tab to see everything they offer… pretty impressive!):

Next time you’re in a restaurant in Mexico, make sure to ask, “Qué aguas tienes?

Have you ever tried any aguas frescas? What’s your favorite flavor? (Mine is agua de melon… canteloupe water!)

Disclosure:  I am being compensated for my work in creating and managing content as a Community Manager for the Mexico Today Program.  I was also invited on an all-expenses paid trip to Oaxaca as part of my role.  All stories, opinions and passion for all things Mexico shared here are completely my own.

Play By Play of a Wednesday Evening

5:00 pm Jorge informs me he might hang out with his friends PG and Paco this evening.

10:00 pm PG calls Jorge. During this call, Jorge switched from “husband voice” to “party voice” (which involves frequent use of the word wey) They decide to hang out at our house.

10:30 pm Paco and Pege arrive at our house. Dogs flip out. I stay upstairs to watch Hoarders and catch up on some blogs.

10:45 pm I hear unrecognizable voices from outside. Disregard and continue in sloth-like state upstairs.

11:10 pm I send Jorge a text message asking him to make me a Caesar salad.

11:25 pm Jorge brings me my Caesar salad (awesome) and informs me that there are 5 people downstairs, including a girl he used to go to middle school with, a friend of his brother, and the owner of a large local gym.

12:00 am I hear loud cell phone conversations of our guests giving directions to our house. Sense of impending doom.

12:28 am Things have gone suspiciously quiet.

12:31 am Loud music and yelling commence. More phone calls.

12:34 am Cries of pain, followed by laughter and repeated use of the word wey.

12:36 am Chanting?

12:51 am Guy screams directions to my house while standing in my stairwell. Car alarm goes off. Pleasant.

12:55 am Noise has escalated. I text Jorge to remind him that we have neighbors and it’s a weekday.

12:58 am Oh my gosh, how many people are at my house?

1:01 am I can hear Spanish pronunciation and grammar lessons.

1:04 am I call Jorge to tell them to quiet down. I feel like an old lady, but the neighbors will hate me! (except the Cuban guy across the street. He’s pretty cool about noise.) Time for bed. Updates in the morning!

Update (Friday afternoon… update fail.): After iniciating soundproofing (aka air conditioning unit), I slept like a baby for the rest of the night. Jorge came upstairs to sleep at 4:00 am (this is surprisingly early  here in Cancun). I am later informed that there were 17 people at our house Wednesday night.

Does this happen in the States, too?

How to Speak Like a Mexicano: Ahorita

When I moved to Mexico 6 years ago, I had a pretty good grasp on the language after 7 years of Spanish classes. I would soon find out that in Mexico, there were thousands of local words and phrases that I had yet to learn.

One word that perplexes me to this day is ahorita. Most of you have probably heard the Spanish word ahora, meaning “now”. In Spanish, there are also diminutive words ending in -ito, -ita, -itos and -itas (depending on plurality and word gender). When adding these endings onto a word, it implies that something is small. So the word “ahorita” would directly translate to something along the lines of  “little now”.

I first learned that ahorita means “right now”. Ahorita lo hago would translate to “I’ll do it right now.” Easy, right? It’s just a matter of quick memorization of one commonly-used phrase!

I couldn’t have been more wrong.

For months, a Mexican might tell me “ahorita lo hago” and I would be confident it was being done right away. Sometimes, however, nothing happened for hours or even days, causing this gringa to get pretty encabronada. Eventually I was told that ahorita actually has two meanings… it can mean “right now”, but it can also mean “in a little while”. WHAT?

Six years later, I’m still bothering Jorge every time he says “ahorita lo hago“. My response is always, “ahorita, ahorita? O ahorita al rato?” (Ahorita right now? Or ahorita later?) Luckily Jorge’s ahorita usually means “within the next half hour”. I guess I still haven’t figured out the subtle nuances of the Mexican people.

"No te preocupes, amor... ahorita lo hago!"